Last month, Pope Benedict XVI met with several members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to specifically advise them about how to best handle what the the pope described as a "grave threat" to "religious freedom." The threat, according to the pope, is the U.S. government's attempt to "deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices."
If you're thinking now of some of the most notorious "intrinsically evil practices" of our government to which Catholics might object—like war or capital punishment—you'd be wrong. The pope and the bishops are concerned about the Obama administration's new policy to require that health insurers cover contraception without co-pays.
And the pope is especially concerned that if such a policy is implemented, and if Americans continue to not give a damn about what the Church has to say on such "intrinsically evil practices" as contraception—as the vast majority of American Catholics don't—this will "delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate."
That, of course, is the real fear, isn't it? That the Church will lose its influence over policy debates, that it will continue to lose its moral authority to dictate what our laws should be. And that is why the Catholic Church, from the pope to the Conference of Catholic Bishops to the priests in churches across the country, has declared war—to further assert its "legitimacy." And now, despite the continued efforts of the Obama administration to allay the concerns of the bishops about health care for women and their continued and fully protected right to believe whatever they want, the bishops have a new demand, according to Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
"There has been a lot of talk [from the White House] in the last couple days about compromise, but it sounds to us like a way to turn down the heat, to placate people without doing anything in particular," Picarello said. "We're not going to do anything until this is fixed."So that's the real concern? If Anthony Picarello decides he's done fixing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' legal troubles—a huge and daunting job, no doubt—and trades it in to sell chalupas, he'll be forced against his conscience to allow his employees to purchase contraception through their health insurance without a co-pay. Can you imagine a worse injustice?
That means removing the provision from the health care law altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and their insurers. He cited the problem that would create for "good Catholic business people who can't in good conscience cooperate with this."
"If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I'd be covered by the mandate," Picarello said.
How about this one: a systemic and widespread conspiracy, over decades, to cover up the rape and molestation of thousands of children?
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While one can appreciate that Rome would favor an anti-contraception "more children" policy—after all, you can only use a child for so long before he needs to be replaced—that hardly seems like sound health care policy for the United States.
That might have something to do with the Church's decreasing "legitimacy" to dictate our laws and policies based on what the Church consideres "intrinsically evil." This is the same organization that now vows to protect women from birth control, just as they protected child rapists and molesters from the law.
Like Father James McGreal, who cost his archdiocese nearly $8 million to settle claims of molestation:
From 1948 to 1988, McGreal served in 10 parishes in Seattle and other parts of Washington state. He was permanently barred from the ministry in 1988 after the archdiocese made a stunning confession that it had assigned McGreal to a Federal Way parish, even though he had been removed from two parishes and a Catholic hospital after being accused of sexually molesting boys. [...]A Catholic hospital? The sort of religious-affiliated organization that shouldn't be sullied with something as dirty and wrong as insurance coverage for birth control?
Court documents claimed that archdiocese officials began receiving complaints about McGreal in the late 1960s and that McGreal had disclosed to a counselor that he had molested hundreds of victims.
Complaints were filed against this "man of the cloth" for two decades before the Church got around to stopping him from molesting children. Two decades. Hundreds of victims.
Of course, that's just one man. One man whose words to his parish were the word of God and could not be questioned. Perhaps he even spoke in opposition to contraception because that is wrong and evil.
As we all know, however, this was not about just one man. The global, billion-dollar operation of covering up for men who rape and molest children goes straight to the top.
And the very institution that has engaged in the criminal—and some might even say intrinsically evil—enterprise now dare to declare what God thinks our health care policies should be? Now, Catholic "leadership" is outraged? So outraged, in fact, that Catholic League head Bill Donohue is threatening, "This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions, and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets." Maybe they'll even occupy a park.
American bishops are contemplating a massive march on Washington, using people and school kids bused in from all over to protest the law.At least they've found a new use for school kids.
Perhaps while the bishops are trying to preserve their "legitimacy," they could show us where in the Bible it says, "Thou shall not require insurance companies to provide contraception without co-pays, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine." While they're at it, perhaps they could also find the passage where it says God wants them to cover up for men who rape and molest children.
The fact is that the Catholic Church has no moral authority to dictate what our laws should be. None. And the attempt to hold American health care hostage with petulant demands and hysterical hyperbole about "religious liberty" is, quite transparently, nothing more than a growing desperation to assert its authority over a population that increasingly does not care what the Church has to say. Catholics have a right in this country to believe whatever they want. The Catholic Church, however, has no right to demand that our laws and policies adhere to what the Church says is right or "intrinsically evil."
After all, after a billion dollars and decades of systematically covering up the rape and molestation of thousands of children, the Church has already undermined its own "legitimacy" to dictate what is right and wrong.